While growing up during the 1950s in Conche, a community on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. I was captivated by the stories told by the older family members concerning the events and incidents that took place in the late eighteenth century, the early days of permanent settlement. I was especially intrigued by the accounts of the life and experiences of my great-great grandfather, James Herbert Dower (1773-1850). According to local oral tradition, he was among the first permanent settlers in Conche.
This is his story.
James Dower and many of his descendants now lie buried in Conche. Others are scattered far and wide, all over Newfoundland and Labrador, across Canada and the United States, and elsewhere. Currently in Conche, there now reside five great-great grandchildren and several great-great-great grandchildren. A local historian once said “if you want to get a true appreciation of the people who live in a place you should wander among the dead.” In Conche, most informative is the old cemetery adjacent to the church. While visiting there, as you wander about and read dates, names, and epitaphs, speak softly and tread lightly lest ye interrupt the eternal sleep of those like James Dower who are quite happy to Rest In Peace. The spirits of these who have passed away wander the pathways and roads of Conche making sure that everyone living here continues to “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them do Unto you.’